Athlete of the Week: Cassandra Conklin ’26

Cassandra Conklin ’26, a freshman from Wantage, NJ, played every minute in goal for Swarthmore field hockey this season. Conklin was essential for the Garnet, who finished their season 9-8 overall and seventh in the league. Conference play is not finished yet, but Conklin currently sits fourth in the league for goalie save percentage (.764) and goals-against average (1.50). This is an impressive accomplishment for a keeper in her first collegiate season, especially since the only other goalies ranked above Conklin come from the top four teams in the conference

Abby Chang: What have been some of the highlights for the team this season?

Cassandra Conklin: There were so many amazing achievements and highlights, but I would say some of the biggest were taking Rowan (one of the top DIII field hockey teams) to overtime in one of our earlier games. Another awesome highlight towards the end of our season was defeating Ursinus 3-2, making that the first time Swat field hockey beat Ursinus since 1948. These two games were monumentous for our program and made everyone incredibly proud of themselves.

AC: You have already made great contributions to the team in just your first season at Swat — to what would you attribute your early success to?

CC: I honestly would not have been able to do as well this season without the incredible help from my insanely patient coaches. My time playing in high school and on my club team are where I learned field hockey, but coming into Swat with an insane amount of nerves surrounding college, playing for a new team, and being the only goalie, was something that made learning and applying skills that always came second nature to me suddenly ten times harder. I mostly worked with my assistant coach Aimee MacFarland in the beginning, and her never ending patience, determination to make me better, and constant reminders to have fun and push my limits, are what conquered my intense overthinking and mental blocks. Aimee was always willing to learn things with me, be there for me whenever necessary, and was the coach I spent the most time learning with and from. The goalie coach, Ainslie, is also always gracefully ready to give me feedback, support my thoughts, and help me work through my ideas. She was always able to restore [my] confidence in myself and get me pumped up for games. Overall, all my coaches were incredible at being receptive to feedback from me and knowing when to push me. I also in no way would have been able to do any of this without the constant love, guidance, and support from my team on and off the field, who made me feel like I belonged. Everyone always made it a point to hang out together and create a loving and fun environment. 

AC: Do you have any pre- or post-game rituals?

CC: I always call my dad before and after games if he isn’t physically there, because he always gives me the best advice and prepares me mentally. 

AC: What is your favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice?

CC: Outside of practice I love always hanging out with people from my team, whether that is doing homework or eating meals together. But, one of my favorite things is when a few of us get together to have movie nights.

AC: Why did you choose Swarthmore?

CC: Everything about Swarthmore had seemed perfect to me — from the atmosphere, to the education, the amazing opportunities to work with different programs and study abroad, and of course the opportunity to play field hockey. Overall, the community at Swat is what really made me realize Swat would be home because of how accepting, welcoming, and amazing each individual is. Everyone is challenging and inspiring each other to do better, and most importantly, everyone is brought together because of our unique differences. The community is what made Swat so remarkable.

AC: What is your major and why?

CC: I am not completely sure of what I want my major to be, as I still want to explore certain subjects/classes. I am mostly leaning towards environmental studies, with a possible minor in Religion. However, I am still open to other studies — I am hoping to take a computer science class next semester and see what CS is like!

AC: What is your favorite class that you’ve taken at Swarthmore?

CC: I’m still only in my first semester, but my favorite class at this moment is Environmental Justice: Ethnographies, Politics, and Action. It can be a lot of reading, but the concepts that we have been tackling have been truly eye-opening and made me critically analyze environmentalism and activism in ways I never would have imagined. The ethnographies we read in the class are incredible and add a lot of valuable arguments and questions to discussions of environmentalism. I also love that we are able to be hands-on and work directly with the organizations C4 and CRCQL in Chester. 

AC: What are some of your other interests besides field hockey?

CC: Elaborating on my previous answer, being able to work with C4 and CRCQL to help Chester residents fight back against the waste incinerator and environmental injustices fueled by racist ways of thinking present in the companies, processes, and governments that make decisions about our everyday lives. Specifically, I am able to work with youth in Chester to help them develop new ideas and hear their thoughts about the future. I also hope to become more involved in other clubs at Swat when I am not busy with field hockey.

AC: Favorite Dining Center bar?

CC: Obviously the dessert bar.

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